Activist Spotlight
July 19 2016

Making a Difference in the South

by Nancy Eiring

Meet Kate Dittloff, Chair of our Surfrider Charleston Chapter, who has been active with Surfrider since 2008.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I got involved with Surfrider Charleston Chapter as soon as I moved to the Lowcountry in 2008. I am obsessed with the ocean, and always did what I could while living inland—as soon as I moved to the beach I knew it was an opportunity to get more involved and have a bigger impact. I started by volunteering for events, helping with tabling at outreach, and spreading the word. As the years went by I became more and more involved, first becoming the success tracker aka: Secretary, and then eventually the Chair two years ago. 

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Here in the Lowcountry we’ve had massive battles surrounding offshore drilling and seismic testing. We also work hard in the fight against single use plastics, and working with municipalities on plastic bag ordinances. 

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I’ve been most involved in creating awareness for our fight against offshore drilling and seismic testing. I’m also currently involved in bag ban ordinances for the City of Charleston as well as the City of Folly Beach. We are looking to eliminate single use plastic bags from both municipalities—and will also be including Styrofoam coolers for the City of Folly Beach ordinance. I’ve also assisted with storm drain marking as well as sea oat planting in coastal cities.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

Definitely offshore drilling was a massive win. But I’m hoping to celebrate a big win regarding the bag ordinance on Folly. We are presenting to City Council in July and the ordinance is expected to pass (fingers crossed!). We have been working for more than a year on this ordinance, reaching out to each business individually, presenting to the business association a number of times, and meeting with a council member to make this happen. All of the hard work looks to be paying off!

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

That it is a grassroots, volunteer run non-profit that is making a big difference. I share with them how a network of volunteers here in the Lowcountry are accomplishing so much and how easy it is to get involved with the local chapter. You can start small and help out with events such as beach sweeps—or play a larger part and get involved or spearhead a specific initiatives. Every little bit makes a big difference!